16 November 2009


Over the weekend, I was in Philadelphia for the national meeting of the American Musicological Society. I heard some really excellent papers, and generally had a good time. The AMS is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, and there were some special events involving people who had been members for 50 years. On Saturday evening, as the hotel elevator rushed downward toward the lobby (from whence I intended to head across the street for Mass), the one other person in the elevator turned around and looked at me. He was wearing clerics, and a red ribbon attached to his AMS name tag proclaimed him a 50-year member. The name tag read, "Rembert Weakland." I didn't say anything to him, and he didn't say anything to me, but I felt all the oddness of it.

I exited the elevator, and the lobby. Thankfully he was not also headed to the basilica for Mass--that would have been even more awkward. The beautiful Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul was directly across the street from my hotel, and had a Mass time that fit very conveniently with my schedule. (My flight on Sunday did, in fact, get me home in time to sing at the 5:15 Mass, but I was hedging my bets. And I wanted to see the church.) The service itself was Mass, more or less as you'd expect a Saturday evening Mass to be in any church across the country, although I was a little surprised that there were no altar servers. The music was unremarkable, but the organist and cantor rather better than you'd get in most places. Also, the organ was beautifully in tune--most organs, even some cathedral organs, suffer from sad neglect in terms of tuning.

There was an announcement before Mass about the USCCB bulletin insert regarding the healthcare bill. Apparently, the insert had been handed out the previous week, but they wanted to announce that for those who hadn't seen it, there were extra copies available. Mentions of healthcare access for all and protection of the unborn and the most vulnerable among us were included in the general intercessions. I also noticed that the Cathedral Basilica has its main Sunday Mass in Latin twice a month from October through June. I would have gone, if my flight time had not precluded it. Overall, I was quite impressed with the church. I wonder if Cardinal Rigali knew that Weakland was in town....

I didn't have my camera, but for those who don't know the church, I found a couple of pictures online. Note the tabernacle shrine behind the altar, made relatively recently by St. Jude Liturgical Arts.

No comments: